The Education Department is not playing any games when it comes to protecting students from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. According to CNN, the agency has launched an investigation into five states that have placed bans on school mask mandates.
The list of Republican-led states include Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah. The investigation seeks to answer whether banning face masks violates the civil right to education for students with disabilities.
The agency maintains a separate department, called the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), to handle such cases. If you didn’t know, their job is to “ensure equal access to education and promote educational excellence through vigorous enforcement of civil rights in our nation’s schools,” according to their website.
“Opening this kind of investigation does not imply that OCR has decided whether there has been a violation of a law that OCR enforces.”
The watchdog-esque department reportedly alerted the “chief state school officials” in all five states of the investigation by sending letters. Each letter suggested that mask restrictions could be preventing schools from following the legal obligation to not discriminate based on disability. Furthermore, the mask bans could keep students with disabilities at high risk for Covid-19 from returning to school for an “equal educational opportunity.”
States like Florida, Texas, Arkansas and Arizona have also issued bans on mask mandates. However, the OCR says they’re not being investigated because the restriction isn’t being enforced in those states due to “court orders or other state actions.”
“The Department will continue to closely monitor those states and is prepared to take action if state leaders prevent local schools or districts from implementing universal indoor masking in schools or if the current court decisions were to be reversed,” OCR said in their official statement.
As previously reported, a judge recently ruled against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s ban, which prevents public schools from enforcing masks. Judge John C. Cooper of Leon County called the ban “unlawful” and “unconstitutional.”
View this post on Instagram
Want updates directly in your text inbox? Hit us up at 917-722-8057 or click here to join!